First Thursdays return to Dripping Springs
There isn’t an empty parking spot to be found. That’s hardly a surprise, given the number of groups flitting from shop to shop along Mercer and Old Fitzhugh. Dulcet notes from a local songstress stream into the evening air and filter down the road, while light, laughter, and warmth pour from the stores and restaurants.
Sherrie Parks, executive director for the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t be happier seeing people out and about, visiting with each other. She hails First Thursdays as the source of the merry-making and is quick to note the event isn’t just about shopping and buying local. It’s about being a community.
“Dripping Springs is very community-oriented. People love something that’s going to bring them together,” Sherrie says. “And that’s what people can do here. They can come shop and have dinner together. It’s a family-oriented event.”
Sherrie had wanted to bring a shopping event to Dripping Springs for quite some time but didn’t have the support for her plan—that is, until store owners on and around Mercer Street came to her requesting an event like the First Thursdays held in Austin. Soon after, Dripping Springs got its own First Thursdays, a monthly event from April through December when vendors stay open late. And even though each event is entertaining and fruitful for all, it’s the April event that Sherrie knows will be the most special.
“In spring, everybody’s ready to get out,” Sherrie says. “It’s exciting to see everybody having fun in the nice weather. The merchants really go all out for the first one with special sales and opportunities.”
In addition to the discounts and festive atmosphere, other enticements draw people in. Julie Crawford of Vintage Soul, purveyor of custom pallet art and creative items, provides free drinks and sets up lighting, music, and a table and chairs so her customers can sit and chat with her and other patrons.
“We have a lot of regulars that come out,” Julie notes. “If our music’s not set up yet or the lights aren’t on, they’ll come down and ask, ‘Where are the lights? Where’s the party?’ They know that when they come here, there’s going to be a certain environment created for them.”
For Julie, First Thursdays are one more avenue for turning customers into friends. She interacts with clients both in the store and on Facebook, where posted items get claimed and set aside until clients can visit the store in person. Her custom pieces are imbued with her clients’ stories, like her most memorable creation, which is tinged with bittersweet.
“A lady in remission from cancer wanted a sign saying, ‘Be Brave.’ She didn’t care what it looked like after that,” explains Julie. “I painted those words and put arrows on it to represent that she and her son, daughter, and husband were headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, she passed away from that cancer. But her story reminds me that the gift that I was given touches other people for however long they’re here.”
Stories like that continue to bring First Thursdays to life for Julie and many other local vendors. For them, the event is about much more than selling. It’s an opportunity to share their gifts with visitors and residents alike, turning strangers into friends, and friends into part of the Dripping Springs community.
Historic Dripping Springs houses a variety of home-grown merchants and restauranteurs that support the goal of buying local. From breweries to dance halls, specialty shops to clothing boutiques, there’s something to appeal to everyone. For more information on First Thursdays, please visit firstthursdaydrippingsprings.org.